Huckleberry Youth Programs

formerly Youth Advocates, Inc.

Huckleberry Youth Programs, founded in 1967, serves at-risk adolescents and their families in the counties of San Francisco and Marin. They operate Huckleberry House, the designated crisis receiving shelter for San Francisco’s runaways, “pushouts”, status offenders and otherwise at-risk youth; the Huckleberry House Family Reunification Program, which provides family counseling, parent support groups and individual counseling; the Cole Street Youth Clinic, a comprehensive adolescent health clinic providing primary medical, education, prevention, counseling and case management services to high risk youth.

In 1989 Huckleberry implemented an innovative peer counseling program which has become a model nationwide, conducted HIV prevention activities to high-risk youth, street outreach, and expanded medical care. In 1992 staff and teen health educators provided HIV prevention education to 1,100 individuals in the community and 1,000 program clients.

Cole Street Youth Clinic

Youth Advocates, Inc./Cole Street Youth Clinic, in conjunction with the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (at the University of California San Francisco) and Northern California Grantmakers, are providing 10 week long HIV prevention interventions to multi-ethnic (primarily African-American and Latino), inner-city adolescents in San Francisco. The interventions are delivered to small groups of 5 to 15 high-risk adolescents and are led by a multi-ethnic team of Peer Health Educators from Cole Street Youth Clinic.

Participants are recruited from community-based recreation centers such as the Mission YWCA, Boys’ & Girls’ Club, and Mission Recreation Center, and the groups are held during after-school hours in the various recreation centers. The adolescents who have participated thus far have been a combination of both in-school and out-of-school youth, and the majority are at high risk for homelessness (either running away or being kicked out of the home), substance use, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIV infection.

The ten sessions in this HIV prevention intervention incorporate a variety of educational strategies including interactive discussions, videos, games, role plays, and visualization exercises. The specific topics that are covered include reproductive/sexual anatomy, sexual identity, sexual attachments, personal HIV/STD risk behaviors, HIV/STD risk prevention/safer sex, barriers to safer sex, negotiating safer sex, limit-setting/boundaries, and obtaining community based services. During the second to last session the groups take a field trip to Cole Street Youth Clinic in order to get acquainted with the variety of services provided by community-based clinics that can help to support their health protective behaviors.

The group intervention setting and peer facilitation provide age appropriate models for behavior change and create a supportive peer network which reinforces participation in safer sex behaviors. These HIV prevention intervention groups have been in operation since October 1994 and since that time over 100 adolescents have benefited from the program.

Visit the Huckleberry Youth Programs home page.

Last modified: February 24, 2011